3 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Not Drinking Water Understanding Your Catโ€™s Refusal to Drink and What to Do

BY | January 04 | COMMENTS PUBLISHED BY
3 Reasons Why Your Cat Is Not Drinking Water

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Adequate hydration is an integral part of keeping your cat healthy. If your cat refuses to drink water, it could be because of the reasons discussed in this article.

Cats tend to be fairly independent creatures. They also seem to fare better than dogs, who often require frequent trips to the vet. That’s one of the benefits of having cats. They are hardy creatures that live true to their ‘nine-lives’ reputation. 

 

That said, like all living beings, cats are also susceptible to diseases and illnesses, and some of them cause distressing symptoms. Some of them can cause your cat to avoid drinking water completely.

 

As a pet owner, it is naturally concerning to witness such symptoms. You might be wondering how to get your cat to drink water and what’s wrong with them. 

 

Not to worry. In this article, we will be looking at three common reasons why a cat might be refusing water. Let’s dive right into it. 

1. A Lack of Clean and Fresh Water 

Before we dig into some of the more complex reasons, the answer to your cat’s behavior could simply be due to stale water. Hydration for cats is something that pet owners can easily overlook. After all, they rarely act thirsty, and if they leave your home on daily trips, you might get the sense that they find water outside. 

 

If you tend to feed your cat a lot of wet food, it’s likely that this meets some of their hydration needs. In such situations, your cat may only take a few discrete laps before bounding away. If you aren’t monitoring it 24/7, it may appear that the water is untouched.

 

Sometimes, conditions like whisker fatigue could also play a role. This happens when the water bowl is too narrow. Each time they try to drink water, their whiskers are stimulated, which stresses the cat. 

 

Annie Burke, a shelter manager and former cattery owner, states that hydration can be achieved by soaking cat kibble in water. This will help in getting at least some water in them.

2. Dental Issues Can Cause Cats to Hesitate to Drink

While this is not too common, it is possible that your cat is experiencing pain somewhere in their mouth. PetMD states that this can cause cats to stop drinking due to discomfort. Symptoms that something is wrong include drooling and pawing at the mouth. 

 

Tooth sensitivity could also be a possible reason for a hesitation in drinking water. This can happen if their enamels have gotten damaged and a tooth root is exposed. If this is the case, there’s a possibility your cat may have something like periodontal disease. 

 

It’s a relatively common issue in cats and also causes their gums to inflame. Thus, ensure that you use some sort of dental wash as an easy way to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy.

3. Serious Conditions Like Gastroenteritis

On the more serious side of things, it is possible that your cat might have inflammation of the stomach and intestines. This is a common condition caused by parasites or toxins and is known as gastroenteritis. 

 

Out of its many symptoms, such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy, loss of appetite is a common theme. In such situations, your cat may avoid water in addition to food, and these symptoms should be your cue to see a vet immediately. 

 

According to VCA Hospitals, gastroenteritis is usually treated with the help of rehydration and restoring the blood electrolyte balance. 

 

Your vet might also prescribe medicines like metronidazole, an antibiotic that also doubles up as a counter against parasitic infections. Likewise, ampicillin is also commonly used to treat gastroenteritis. 

 

In conclusion, there are several factors that might be at play when it comes to the refusal of water. You will want to observe the behavior of your cat closely. They usually act odd when something is seriously wrong with them. You might notice your cat trying to hide and actively avoid their water bowl.


Besides keeping fresh water for them, there’s not much you can do. An experienced vet has probably seen several similar cases. They will be able to guide you on how to help a cat that refuses water and also recommend medicines for dehydration.

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